tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC May 10, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT
they represent the office. so they have a real professional responsibility to make sure the office of the president is protected. they're in a very tough role right now. >> if you're working in the white house if there's kbhn you want to listen to is john dean. thank you very much. really appreciate it. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts right now. tonight why was james koenly fired and why now and how long was this in a works? new reporting that west wing at this hour. plus mike flynn subpoenaed after refusing to hand over documents related to russia. speaking of which the two sergeys, the russians who visited the oval office photographed only by russian media, that was before nixon's secretary of state stopped by. and that's the optics we're dealing with as "the 11th hour"
good gins. and good evening once again from our headquarters in new york. this was day 111 for the trump administration. where does the time go? the day after the president fired the head of the fbi and while fighting off comparisons of richard nixon, the president met with nixon's secretary of state henry
kissinger while fighting off claims that his firing was about the russia investigation, he met with two men named sergey. russian. of mike flynn and carter page flame. it was closed to the press. the still photos we are able to show you came from the russian government news agency. today also saw the white house on defense trying to explain the reasoning and the timing for comey's firing. >> the president took the advice
of the deputy attorney general who over sees the director of the fbi and they made a decisioning to remove him. >> the president's decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and attorney general to remove director comey as head of the fbi was based solely and exclusively on his commitment to the best interested of the american people and insuring that the fbi has the trust and confidence of the people of this nation. >> very much for being here. appreciate it. >> why did you fire director comey? >> because he was not doing a good job. very simply. >> yes or no. did the president direct rod rosenstein to write this memo? >> he'd lost confidence and he'd been considering letting comey
go the day he was elected but he had a conversation with the deputy attorney general monday where they had come to him to express their concerns. the president ask they put those concerns and recommendations in writing. >> and you said the president lost confidence in him over the last weeks and months. when was it that -- and i default. when was it that the president lost confidence in james comey? >> i think it's beenn erosion of confidence. i think director comey has shown over the last several months and year a lot of missteps and mistakes. >> and new reports suggest the president's anger about comey has simmered and finally ignited after his capitol hill testimony last week. politico's reporting the
president would scream at the televisions during news riports on the russia investigations. trump found comey sankmonious. and the president talked about firing comey
for at least a week. there's this pair of quotes from the times. after president trump accused his predecessor in march of wire tapping him, james b. comey was faber glasted. the president was outside the realm of normal, crazy. and the president telling his aids quote there's something wrong with comey. and just days before he was fired he was asking for more resources for the russia investigation. and michael flynn received a subpoena for documents possibly relevant to its russia investigations. they requested those documents in a letter dated april 28th.
a senate historian tells msnbc news this is the first time the senate intelligence committ has subpoenaed documents since the 1970snd on the flynn front the daily beast siting two sources toonts that white house lawyers repeatedly had to warn the president since flynn was fired in midfebruary. threats rrer bring in tonight's opening panel. julie pace is back with us. fellow white house reporter is with us. and senior foreign affairs correspondent returns as well. we'll start with you. give us your best reporting as of tonight, 1105:00 eastern time why was comey feired and why no? >> our reporting shows president trump has grown increasingly
angry over the russia investigation, what he saw as comey not being supportive enough in particular congressional testimony of trump's own role or lack of ties to russia as it relates to the fbi question. you saw this shift in the white house story where yesterday they were presenting this as almost something that came out of the blue where the justice department came the president with concerns and the story has now shifted comp pleatly and it's all happening against a back drop that really points to an fbi director who was trying to move forward rather aggressively on this investigation seeking additional resources from rod rosenstein who was new at the justice department and going to the senators involved in one of the congressional investigations to alert them to these requests
that he was making. so the picture in some really revolves around the russia investigation much more so than comey's handling of the clinton email. >> what does any of it say about the style of donald j. trump? >> as a businessman and on the campaign had unchecked power. he has run against the bull work of federal agencies, the other branc branchs of government. he's rebelled against the typical norms that keep a president's power in place. it's supreme court choice through the senate or to the case like this where an fbi director is in a nonpolitical position they plan at least two
presidents. they're supposed to bow above this sort of partisanship and nothing's more partisan than the russia investigation. but the president saw fit to dismiss him because of his anger of how he's handle the russian probe. >> and there's all this reporting in the last 30 hours that leaves that three page underpinning letter dangling, twisting in the wind. the wall street journal reporting that comey asked for daily updates. a bunch of reporting that he'd asked for more resources. none of it looks good. the. >> it's clear that this president sees himself as undersiege by day one. whether or not there's anything there and there's a lot of smoke, we don't know yet how much fire there may be. what he broadcasts is a kind of
resentment that this is unfair that he's being denied the chance to tout his successes and have a normal presidency because disgruntled democrats are manufacturing this story line. he, i think believes that. it's possible there were inappropriate contangts. requires possible he himself has things to hide and at the same time is being driven in a way kind of nuts by this. he can't take it anymore. he's furious, he's yelling at the tv, saying what are we doing about this. we all see what he's tweeting and this feels like an extremely kind of emotional and impulsive act of as we just heard a man used to having total power and getting his way but we can't underestimate the degree to which he feels unfairly deprived at a fair shot to having the kind of presidency he wants
because the russia story won't go away which is not to say this is an unfair reality but i think that's how he sees it. >> and as they say in television -- we try not to cry too much about press freedoms. but i saw a former deputy director say on social media the russians should not have been allowed in the oval office and now from the washington post tonight a dual byline from arello and miller. they sited the danger that a listening device or other surveillance equipment could have been brought into the oval office while hidden in cameras and other electronics. they raise questions after fo d photos of trump's meeting were posted online by the tass news agency. people remember the expression
the soviet news agency. that was an unbelievable visual from the oval office. an event american journalists were not allowed to record. >> they were not allowed to be in this meeting and the fact this meeting happened at all. not just that you had the rushz foreign minister in the oval office and you also had the russian ambassador the united states who is really such a central player in these ongoing investigations and the russians are smart when it comes to propaganda. anytime a u.s. and russian president talk, we always get the kremlin's readout first. they played the white house on this fronts today. they got these images out quickly and to these security concerns, this is something you started to hear from people in agencies and trump's orbit that
there's been a naivety to the russians, that he maybe didn't understand what cis leac's motivation may have been in the transition and that the white house didn't fully understand the risks, the security risks, the intelligence risks of bringing in a russian photographer who had direct ties to the government. >> unbelievable. >> jonathan, t white house didn fully understand the reaction to the firing of james comey. the reports from the white house grounds yesterday of sean spicer briefing in the bushes in the dark as they were trying to collect themselves after ts are unbelievable. >> t president kept this decision pretty close to the vest and yesterday it was sort of hoisted upon sean spicer just an hour or so before. >> so how do you get this press
operation -- >> there was no surrogates lines up. jeff sessions, the assistant attorney general, they still have not been seen. the white house press core said we've issued a statement. there's not go toing to be anything else. a few hours later after the president was furious, he dispatched them to do some interviews. they thought that democrats largely would be supportive of this decision because they've been so critical of the fbi director since his letter that impacted last year's election. and he said this is a bad idea. >> and michael crowley they were still pushing and pushing today the clinton story. >> right. it all comes back to that. and i think that that -- to
continue that last poent, that was the expectation that democrats had been bashing comey and therefore trump was going to get some sort of bipartisan support. i thought the former obama advisor captured it when he described this as a colossal miscalculation. it suggest es the circle was not only tight but politically tone deaf. i want to go back to the russ n russians in the oval office. the one thing i wants to add is if you look that comments that came out of the meetings, very positive talking about warmer relations, cooperating not only on syria but other areas of the middle east. remember when rex tillerson went to moscow and met with vladimir
putin, that was a tense visit. there was a lot of acramony over the missile strikes in syria and you didn't hear anything kbout about that. it was pretty bullish and trump bottom line seems determined to press ahead with better relations with russia and vladimir putin and boy is that interesting in the context of everything we're talking bouts. >> and praise was being heaped youn for deadline writing after the news broke on comey. the associated press hmoved an item. quote with his shocking dismissal ofbi director james coy donald trump is propelling the presidency into rarely traversed territory. i hope people understand it's one thing to sit down at a keyboard, think about it and
write that. it's quite another thing when it's happening in front of you. would you have any reason to change your lead on night two? >> i would and i would strengthen it. there's no reason to down play this extraordinary and pretty unprecedented territory we're in with the trump territory just over 100 days in. >> it's been a great 24 hours. as i keep calling the trump presidency it's the full employment act of 2017. we're happy to have you all. coming up after our first break is anyone in the white house able to stand up to the boss? "the 11th hour". thanks, man. imagine if the things you bought every day earned you miles to get to the places you really want to go. with the united mileageplus explorer card, you'll get a free checked bag, 2 united club passes...
i'm not concerned because i know the fbi is made up of people who will do their job, i know our system is bigger than mr. comey. so, no i don't believe firing james comey is a get out of jail free card for the trump campaign. >> when you fire probably arguably the most respengted person in america you better have a very good explanation and so far i havant seen that. >> the timing and the reasons for this decision made little sense to me and i don't think i've heard anything since last night that would clarify that in any way. >> it wasn't just republicans today. there was no shortage of reaction on the hill today from both sid of the aisle but three notable republican
reactions there. joining our conversation this evening we're so happy to have back gop veteran steve schmidt and former chief strategist to the o 8 campaign and wall street journal reporter eli stokal. it's been too long since we've been able to talk to you. remembering that republicans were the heroes of watergate. afterall it was roads and -- bhoo took the trip down the white house lawn. who are you looking to be profiles incurage and just how unnormal is everything you've seen in the last 24 hours some. >> it's unprecedented, brian, shocking, actually. any republican, member of congress who takes the
president, his spokes people's assertions that this action occurred because director comey was unfair to hillary clinton is either a fool or they have so lost sight in this era of tribal politics their responsibilities to the country that they've become faithless to their oaths. my old colleague, the long-time chief of staff may have hit the nail on the head when he sai i never thought i'd be saying this in my lifetime but perhaps we need a democratic congress to protect the national security of the united states in 2018. so there are few that give you hope that country comes first and of course that list starts with john mccain, richard bur, some of the other members that have expressed real dismay at
what is clearly an attempt to influence the direction of the investigation of russian influence in the election. this is a historic moment and a very serious one. the it the depictions of the president remind you of humphrey bogart rolling the marbles in his hand on the search for strawberries. >> it has been anothier remarkable night with 30 sources which tells you something about the administration. from the podium today in that briefing room, they called comey guilty of atrocities, a word we normally associate with someone like assad of syria.
>> ye. the language is stunning but we're all a bit used to it after 112 days i think it is. the atraossty was that jim come did not run his rimarks past attorney general jeff sessions, never mind the fact that he's supposed to be separate from partisan politics and yet there's an expeck tascexpeckita you're working for this president loyalty is the most important thing and you should tow that line and james comey wasn't about to do that. and that's basically what bought gaut him fired. whether it's sarah sanders, mike pence, everybody defending the administration. their job depends on doing that and performing for the boss.
it's an audience of one. >> when i hear stories of spicer briefing in the bushes on the north lawn of the white house in the dark and a heads up the host of snl is melissa mccarthy. it tells me that west wing didn't have much warning that firing of the fbi director was coming. who is there to stand up to the boss, to offer advice counsel and speak truth to powerer? >> there's nobody clearly. not a single person who can constrain the president of the united states from his sense of grievance, the temper tantrums. the white house press secretary, someone who is supposed to have credibility speaking to the american people on behalf of a president huddled in the bushes in the darkness saying turn out the lights, turn out the lights
so he wouldn't be on camera. well, because of the firing of director comey, the lights are now on and they're on high shining down on and what will come of this are the independent investigations that will ultimately get to the bottom of what happened in the election with regard to russian interference, russian influence. and it may be a political proposition that they can delay until 2018. but those elections may well be a giant national referendum on the question are we going to find out what the work of a hostile forb power was in the election of the president of the united states. because there's a lot more smoke tonight than there was yesterday. >> again i've just been handed an item reporting by the
washington post saying the deputy attorney general threatened to resign after the narrative emerging from the white house last night cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation. this is sourced again. anonymity a source close to the white house. so this would indicate rosenstein's name and rate were behind the three-page amalgram. that he resented it being compiled as his argument for firing. >> you would think when you're asked to put something like that together by the president, you would expect they would understand this is going to be used as a pretext to fire the fbi director. he never said explicitly made
that recommendation in that let's and if that reporting is correct, that's a sign the deputy attorney general has gotten upset at the attempt to spin this basically saying this was all a response to this memo taking agency away from the president in this way because it insulates from from the critique. and so it was sort of an alibi but sort of providing an alibi for the president, it would seem they alienated the deputy attorney general but there's nobody in this white house capable of standing up to the president and pushing back on this right now. we were trying to figure out exactly who was in the innercircle when this was happening today? reince priebus, steve bannon
were caution the president a little bit are you sure you want to do this? the optics nay not be great but as one white house source told me those two are not pushing back on anything because they don't have the standing with the president and this is a very thin skinned president who wants toakeure and feel that everybody working for him is on his team and going to defend him 100%. >> last 30 second reaction. the fbi director is a direct report to the ag who was held out as the mover behind the firing. >> once again this white house is mainstream lying to a degree that begs the madge nations. you think about this over the last 24 hours. the vice president has lied.
ms. sanders has lied. across the board every person who walks out of the walks out the north lawn and has talked to the american people. it's the type of lie that requires the liars to believe the people they're lying to are stupid because this is plain as day what this is about. and the claims this is about anything other than the russia investigation are just completely ludicrous on their face. >> who else thought for just a second they had taken down your satellite signal? it's great to have your voice back on the broadcast. thank you. anering break for us here. and coming up what timing and the looks of it all as trump meets with the russian amw ambassad ambassador, the russian foreign minister in the oval aufls amid
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fbi director. trump invited him and the ambassador. mike flynn reportedly spoke to about sanctions before trump's inauguration. both of those guys into the oval office. only the russian agency -- u.s. photographers not allowed in and about how the meeting came together, politico is reporting a white house spokesman said this. he chose to receive them. putin did specifically ask on the call when he last talked. let's bring in our guests. the person we bring to talk about russia. former u.s. ambassador to russia during the obama administration. and from the atlantic, a moscow born american journalist. you go first.
i don't know if you were listening to the washington post piece tonight doubting the wisdom of allowing russian photographers into the oval office on the face of t no american journalists allowed in for what they might have brought with them. perhaps this is an opportunity to repeat to the american people we have been attacked and are under attack by russia. >> well, we were attacked by russia. they influenced one of the most sovereign things we do as a nation, choose our president and yet the president -- president trump refuses to acknowledge those basic facts and at a time when we're discussing this, he should be serious and somber in meeting with the foreign mister. i worked at the white house for three years. i organized the first meetsing
with president obama. that is not something unusual and it goes back to soviet times. there's the expectation that if their heads of state meet with our heads of vice and we do viceau versau. but what is totally unusual, unprecedented is that american journalists weren't there. i tweeted out the photo of president obama and you see the boom mikes to illustrate that was totally unprecedented and in my view makes the president look very weak. vladimir putin would never let the american pres core come in without the russian press core being there. just on the tactics was -- and the serious issues we have in
our relationship including their violation of our sovereignty. >> you are just back from mauvo and i believe i heard you just after you returned on the air say the talk there was the russians are anxious to put truffle and putin together. >> thealk all this spring was let's get these guy s in a roon. let's get some chemistry happening to jump start a talk. this is when any talk of sanctions had evaporated with the firing mike flynn. when trump's desires ran against the rocks of american political reality and became pretty much untenable while all of this was being investigated, russian medaling to restart this relationship.
so the russians were thinking this is a hail mary. he seems to react well to 1 on one meetings with powerful men. he did with ping from china and decided not to label china a currency manipulator as he vowed to do during his whole campaign. he did the same thing with the general of nato and said nato's no longer obsolete after i was in office for two months and just because he had these personal meetings. and i think the kremlin understood trump's psychology to do this. so if they could get him in a room and jump start the talks. >> what is it like to watch this play out given your experience? >> where to begin. the idea that
president putin can swing leaders, that was the way they talked about obama and putin in the early days and the record's pretty clore that president trump is influenced by these individual meetings. i wrote a piece for the post saying you hope it's learning but it often times looks like it's just ad-libbing and that meeting. they have a lot of hope on that. the problem is there's this big 800 pound guerilla that won't be dismissed from the room just because he fired fbi director comey and that is we need to know the facts of a, what's the russians did. and b, was there any collusions
with americans in that? and i thing it's difficult for any administration to move forward with a different relationship with vladimir putin. >> and one of your colleagues is reporting quote i think the president's worried about mike flynn said the source close to the white house. trump questioned whether he should have fired flynn. they don't know what flynn's going to say. there's your russia story. . >> if anything the last two days is the 800-pountd guerilla has gained 2 or 300 pounds and joins the elephant as well as a giant ostrich which is ukrain and syria. there's a reason sergey has not been in the office since 2013. it's the year before 2014 which is twice before they invaded
ukrain for which we sanctioned them. this has not been addressed. they have not given back crimea. so there's no reason -- also i have to add there were images going around online contrasting the laughing, back smacking contrasted with the douer expression trump wore when meeting with one of our closest allies, angela merkel. i don't quite understand why his allegiances lie the way they do but i think a lot of it is a broey, strong man affinity. >> something tells me the news will force the conversation. our thanks tonight to ambassador, and coming up after anothinger bre ask a member of the senate judiciary committee the one question she
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welcome banck. and again what a night. democrat for hawaii. she sits on the senate judiciary committee. if you watched our cover aage, u saw her taking part in the testimony on james clapper and sally yates earlier this week. i started out by asking what the fellow democrat posted on twit r last night shortly after comey was fired. he wrote quote we are in a full-fledged constitutional crisis. and i asked whether she agreed. >> well. i know that we need to get to the bottom of the russian interference with our elections and trump team's connections to tho those efforts and this is why i have been calling for a special prosecutor for m i would like to ask them if it's such important that a strong investigation should continue. >> are you curious about the president exonerating himself in the letter? would you like to find out if that actually happened? >> i certainly would be surprised if the fbi director actually told a target you're not a target or that you are. >> senator mazie, democrat of hawaii. thank you very much for coming on us to tonight. >> thank you a. >> and senator brian schatz, not ben. you'd think i'd get that right comey already breaking in to the national conversation as members of congress. ♪
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putin. >> donald trump is not a republican. how long are you and your fellow republicans going to defend this american nightmare? >> that was a town hall meeting in new jersey with republican congressman tom mcarthur. it was already difficult for a lot of republican house members to go home for this 11-day break and talk with the customers, their bosses because of the health care vote they cast which also came up at the meeting tonight. now they are being asked to answer for the comey firing and some cautionary numbers are out for the man at the top of the ticket. new poll has president trump badly under water. 36path approval rating versus 58% disapprove. joining our conversation tonight dana lash, syndicated conservative radio talk show host and two former members of
congress. dana, we are happy to have you on tonight and i will begin here. mike hayden who used to run cia wrote an article saying that considering the president in 111 day s has fired national securiy adviser, acting attorney general and head of the fbi says we are beginning to neek nicarag nicaragua. >> i have been hearing from people all over the country. a lot of people in those in between states. they are hesitant. i think everybody has to understand that we are talking about a huge demographic who was hesitant to believe what the press was telling them leading up to and even after the election. so people are hesitant. they want to see evidence of the allegations of collusion. i know that many in the media
have not been using alleged. these individuals believe if there is evidence let's put it on the table and then go forward. at the same time maybe they are getting a little bit nervous as to seeing how some things perhaps are being handled coming out of washington, d.c. from what i have been hearing people are waiting to see if another shoe is going to drop and waiting to see what the evidence is going to be. they are waiting for the decenters to make arguments. >> last night before the comey news a story we were going to play up pretty big was the proposed mini surge in afghanistan and how that fit the american first mentality. we are going to have to have that conversation before long. >> i agree with that completely. there is a lot of people i think you can call it the divided right in some respects. anything that would pose a threat to the united states from what i hear everyone is on board to eliminate threats.
what people don't want to see is people in states they don't want to see nation building. they don't want to see mistakes made in the previous two administrations under former president obama to see some of the stuff happen in libya and mistakes made in honduras, the controversy with the dictatorship, to see iran and egypt. they want to have that america first protect american interests. however, if there are threats to american interests that lie in afghanistan or elsewhere like for instance syria go ahead and address those particular situations. too much and people will start criticizing. >> harold ford, let's name another great american town. what do folks in lebanon, tennessee think about the firing of james comey. >> you asked senator of hawaii would ask of james comey. why did he ask for more money? did he have conversations to
deputy attorney general about the russian investigation? and three occasions the president said that you told him he was free of any charges. is that true and if so why? when was the last time the president told you he had confidence in you? this has been a nine-month thing coming. to dana's point people need to see the evidence. i hope comey will come before the intelligence committee and answer those questions. >> have you been surprised at gop stick togetherness and loyalty? and the other side of that question is which members of the republican senate are you looking to be profiles? >> i think there is a quiet erosion of support. this is an embarrassing time to be a republican. i had local republican mayors share that with me. it is no surprise that donald trump is governing with such arrogance. it is a surprise that the gop congress is falling in line with the cover up. i think that is the angst you
are seeing at the town halls. people are frustrated. i'm a former member of congress. for eight years we demanded accountability of barack obama and the republicans aren't doing it today. i would say to my former colleagues in congress republicans hold donald trump to the same standard of accountability that you held barack obama. you're not doing it. you destroying your credibility and embarrassing the party. >> lightning round between dana and two men willing to admit they are former members of congress. is the trump base made of limitless patience? >> no. it's not. we need to remember that a lot of the people that came to vote for donald trump, these are people who had previously been reliable democratic voters and loved it when the trump campaign was discussing jobs, trade, manufacturing. this is how people put food on the table. if we get too much in the weeds with controversy it will start to erode trust and confidence.
2018 may look differently if we continue down this path. >> the firing of comey, do you think that broke through? do you think he was a figure to the folks across this country? >> i think the answers he may have to some of the key questions may -- i'm not convinced he was as big a figure. he has answers that force republicans to answer uncomfortable questions asked and put right on their front porches. >> recovering congressman jolly, do you think republicans can get to 51 on whom ever is nominated for the fbi? >> he may. i think the drip of credibility is going to under in moo this president with his base. you asked who is going to confront this president and say you have lost your base? the rich irony of this is going to be his own daughter. she husband her pulse on public
opinion on her father. she will be the one to have to confront him. >> his name is richard burr. >> two former members of congress and one woman with enough sense to have never run. thank you all very much. we had a ton of news breaking on our watch. a reminder lester holt sits down with president trump tomorrow. we will have that for you tomorrow night. that is it for our broadcast for tonight. for all of us here in new york good night. thank you for being with us. thanks to you at home for joining us for this next hour. i have to tell you we have a big show tonight, a number of guests i'm excited to talk to tonight. a lot going on. we have exclusive information tonight and a round-up about what's happened over the course of today. these are times when it is worth paying attention. here is a specific thing i think is worth paying attention to. mi f